Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Recently visited ..... Leicester and Richard III

Whilst Leicester itself is not the most attractive of cities, the area around Leicester Cathedral is more amenable to the visitor. There is a largely traffic free shopping area known as "The Lanes", with small shops and cafes/restaurants. (Further from the Cathedral is a less attractive shopping area which does have some big name shops and a market that appeared to be strong on fruit and veg. If you are into retail therapy you might enjoy...).

Just opposite the Cathedral there is now a visitor centre, marking the place at which King Richard III's body was discovered. The centre has been very well designed, and, if you are doing your pilgrimage in honour of Richard III, you should go to the visitor centre. It tells the story of King Richard's reign and death at the Battle of Bosworth (ground floor) and the archaeological search for the Greyfriars and King Richard's body (first floor) in a very exciting way. It might be as well to pre-book your ticket - Zero and I found the centre comfortably busy when we visited on a Saturday afternoon. The visitor centre website gives a good impression of the centre.

At the end of your visit, you are able to look down through a glass floor to view the excavated site of Richard III's burial. Lighting shows how the bones of Richard's body were laid out when the burial was uncovered. This is a separate room, slightly apart from the rest of the visitor centre, and succeeds in giving a sense of reverence in the presence of the burial place of a King. As the website of the visitor centre says:
Visitors return to the ground floor to complete their experience with a visit to the site of King Richard’s burial, preserved in a quiet, respectful setting and with a contemplative atmosphere, fitting for the last resting place of a slain warrior and anointed monarch.
From the visitor centre it is just a few steps to Leicester Cathedral and a visit to King Richard's tomb - when Zero and I visited there was a 5 or 10 minute wait in a queue to visit.  The Cathedral is a very light building (on a sunny day, at least) and the tomb has been presented very well. The bridge across which Richard's body was returned to Leicester after the Battle of Bosworth is a 5 minute walk away.

The satellite image on Google maps is, of course, a few years out of date .... and shows the social services car park that used to cover the site of the Greyfriars and Richard III's burial place.

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